Press Conferences

17. 9. 2008 16:12

Press Conference after the Meeting of the Government, Held on Wednesday 17th September 2008

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the press conference after the meeting of the government. I welcome the only one guest here, the member of the government and the First Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Jiří Čunek. Good afternoon, you have the floor.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Thank you. Today's press conference is being held just because the government spokesperson persuaded me that it should be held. I think that today's meeting of the government was such short that it was not worth such a long waiting. There were originally six items on the agenda which were to be considered in the course of debate and great number of items which were to be considered without debate. Two item of the part "To be considered without debate" were transferred to the part "To be considered in the course of debate". It concerned the item no. 7 – Provision of voluntary contributions to financial provision for returning the highly enriched used nuclear fuel, and one more item, and the item no.18 concerning driving to the protected landscape area of Lysá hora . These items were transferred but the Bill amending the Act no.201 of 1997 on Salary and Some Other Requisites of Public Prosecutors and the Supreme Audit Office's audit conclusion were omitted. The audit conclusion concerned the construction of the Justice Precinct in Brno. As there was not Minister Pospíšil present he had asked me to exclude this item from the agenda and so I did so. Then the Bill amending the Act no. 114 on Nature and Landscape Protection was debated. The problem was to transfer the approval procedure regarding various permits and exceptions for driving to the protected landscape areas, like Šumava Mountains and such like. It means that certain more effective procedure was proposed as the government need not deal with such issues. Thus certain activities will be transferred to other bodies, organs of the Ministry of environment and to the respective authorities of landscape protected areas. Nevertheless, some disagreements or different views on this material occurred and therefore the material was suspended and it would be debated at the meeting of the government after two weeks. Then we dealt with further item which was the item no.5 Increase of guarantees on easing past environmental burdens. The problem was that in the company Třinecké Železárny, where the old environmental burden is being restored, the contamination of soil is much greater that it had been expected and therefore the government proposed to increase those 51 million crowns for restoration of damage up to 843 million crowns, so that the company could restore more damage. Mr. Minister Kalousek accepted my request to quantify when and by what amounts the individual environmental damage in the individual companies were increased or decreased. The material was approved with that condition. Then the issue of awarding of the district electoral commissions members was approved. It way approved in the submitted wording. The award for chairmen will not be 1100 crowns but 1600 crowns. The awards of keepers of records will not be 1000 but 1500 crowns and that the award of members of commissions will not be 800 crowns but 1300 crowns. Concurrently, the proposal of Mr. Minister Langer was adopted; he proposed not to solve these issues through a regulation but to incorporate it into the law. It is a matter which will cost the Czech Republic by 75 million crown more in case of oncoming elections. The last item or the last but one item which was debated was the issue of the repurchase of enriched nuclear fuel; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs required increase of its funds in its chapter of the state budget for this matter. Nevertheless, the government did not approve it as this chapter was approved and I was of the opinion that funds of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were good. It means that these funds that are in the budget for 2008 will have to be sufficient, especially with regard to the strengthening of Czech crown. The material was approved only the issue of those funds will be solved within the competence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ministry will finance the repurchase using its own financial means. The last issue considered driving of persons suffering from civilization diseases to the landscape protected area of Lysá hora. The material was withdrawn from the agenda and the Minister of Environment was assigned with a task to finish it, to specify it and perhaps to prepare different resolution. That was all ladies and gentlemen what concerned the meeting of the government, let alone standard European affairs.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson:  I thank the first Deputy Prime Minister. Now I ask for your questions. Radiožurnál.

Václava Vařeková, Radiožurnál: Good afternoon. I have a question to the Deputy Prime Minister. Can you briefly comment what happened today, as the deputy Schwippel left the group of deputies of the ODS?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: I can just say that it was not debated at the meeting of the government. This is the first thing. The second – it is the internal matter of the ODS and I, as the Chairman of the KDU-ČSD, will not comment it and I will not interfere into those internal affairs. It is the ODS which has to solve the problem.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, further question concerning the government meeting agenda.

Hospodářské noviny: I have two questions. First one concerns those guarantees for the company Třinecké Železárny. In 1995, when it was privatized, there was stated that they would not ask for a support and that they would not get any support for restoration of environmental damage. Then, two years later, they got such a support and it was stated that the maximum amount was 514 million crowns. Now it was increased again. The second question – did the government discuss the financial crisis? What will be impact on the Czech Republic and the state budget like and  how the estimated growth of the GDP will be changed?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: The first question was good as the same question I asked the Minister of Finance who submitted that material. What was the situation then? The answer was that it was the government of Mr. Zeman which provided that support and which approved it. The fact is that it is rather imprecise as the amount will not be paid out directly to Třinecké Železárny. The common practice is that companies do not restore damage themselves but it is usually ensured by external firms which are chosen by the ministry. Firms are awarded the contract and they also get financial means based on the contract. The contract however is not between them and Třinecké Železárny. No financial mean will be transferred to Třinecké železárny. You are right that this matter was not included in the privatization project. The company Třinecké železárny was to restore the environmental damage itself and the then government, as you have said, approved to apply the same regime as it was common in case of other companies. According to the statement of the Minister of Finance, in case of arbitration they would win and the government would lose the case. In other words, he took the side of then government and to provide these financial means for restoring environmental burden. I cannot say anything else about it. As to that increase, as I have already said, we agreed on preparation of a material in which firms will be specified where some increase of financial means for restoring the environmental burden took place. Also a complex solution is being prepared, about which you are informed, and it means that in case the proposal is approved by the government and by those two political parties that package of 100-130 billion crowns of environmental burden would be solved so that we would avoid continuous negotiations on price increase and such like. And the second question, I cannot remember – yes, the financial crisis. It was not on the agenda of the meeting of the government but we were discussing it; nevertheless no resolution was adopted. I suppose it will be debated on Monday in the framework of the debate on the state budget.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.

A journalist: May as a question concerning those awards of members of electoral commissions? Does it mean that it was adopted that they will have to pay health insurance?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: No. It was adopted that they will receive an award and that award will be a taxable income. The income will be taxable but I point out that they always have been taxable, and so the taxation will continue. The proposal which was aimed at removing taxation was not adopted.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, further question, please.

Filip Nerad, Czech News Agency: Good afternoon, I would like to ask – some information came out that the Declaration on the Strategic Partnership with United States was to be submitted to the government. You have not spoken about it and therefore I would like to ask whether you debated it or when it could be submitted to the government.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: As you know we do not comment any materials which are debated under the regime "restricted". Therefore I cannot give you any information.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, further question. Právo.

Jitka Götzová, Právo: Good afternoon. The court decided today that Mr. Kořistka proved that he had been bribed by Mr. Dalík and Mr. Večerka. What do you say about it? Thank you.

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: This is a matter of somebody else. The fact that it concerns names which are more frequently mentioned by media in connection with certain persons does not mean that I am to comment on them. It really does not concern the government agenda or my person.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you.

Mladá fronta Dnes: I would like you to specify details on the debate on the crisis. Did you just discuss it or did you advise the Minister of Finance to revise the state budget?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: Of course that the current crisis has influence on the GDP; whether the state budget is prepared well with respect to the revenue side or whether it is too optimistic. The government did not take any decision in this respect. We can expect that if a decision is taken, it will be taken in connection with the debate on the state budget next week on Monday.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, the Czech News Agency.

Aleš Sosnovský, Czech News Agency: In connection with the state budget I would like to ask whether you have reached an agreement with the Minister of Finance on the budget of your ministry. There were some additional requirements there. What is the situation like as it should be clear by Monday?

Jiří Čunek, 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development: It should be clear by Monday or it will not be clear by Monday. In such a case it will be the government which will decide. Mr. Minister, with regard to the current situation, tries to preserve the expenditure side. It is a practical problem and my argument is that there are matters which are superfluous and matters which are not superfluous and then there are opportunities of the budget which can strengthen the GDP and so on. There is an expert's discussion being held on this budget. The fact is that if there are no resources, we would have to seek them elsewhere. It is a practical discussion on the level of indebtedness.

Jana Bartošová, Government spokesperson: Thank you, is there any further question? Thank you for your attention. Good-bye.

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